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Letters From Readers - July 2012 Aviation History

Originally published by Aviation History magazine. Published Online: May 04, 2012 
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A Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bomber, in which reader Rex Jordan served during World War II. (U.S. Navy)
A Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bomber, in which reader Rex Jordan served during World War II. (U.S. Navy)

Rex vs. Privateer
I enjoyed the article on the Kawanishi N1K1 "Rex" floatplane fighter ("Restored," May issue). While we were out on a two-plane patrol aboard a Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bomber [see photo above] off the west coast of Korea on July 5, 1945, we were attacked by two such aircraft. After we splashed one, the other had better sense and broke off.

 

The crudely constructed bomb shackles referenced in the article were to hold phosphorus bombs, intended to be dropped onto aircraft such as the Privateer—a dumb idea, as the Privateer was equipped with two upper-deck turrets, each with twin .50s. As we flew close to the deck to avoid a fighter diving through our formation, they could only attack from above and then quickly pull up, which made them easy targets.

Rex Jordan
Kennewick, Wash.

Best Bud
I thoroughly enjoyed your May article on Bud Anderson. I was fortunate enough to meet Colonel Anderson when I graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School, Class 97B. Each class selects a distinguished alumnus to honor, and Anderson was both our selectee and guest speaker. It was a marvelous evening.

Colonel Anderson regaled the audience with his WWII exploits, and enthralled them with test-flying stories. You could have heard a pin drop. His humility and graciousness were as prominent as his ear-to-ear grin. He was, and continues to be, a true American hero.

Ernie Tavares
Lexington Park, Md.

I enjoyed Barrett Tillman's story "Bud." At the 2009 Oshkosh AirVenture, I had the privilege of sharing the authors' table with Anderson. Of course, he sold about 50 books to my few, but after the customers had gone we had a chance to chat. I was so impressed with his down-to-earth manner.

As a former Air Force fighter pilot myself (F-86F, F-100C way back when), and someone who has long been interested in the WWII air war, I was particularly curious about how he could take off from England, fly hundreds of miles into hostile European skies, do battle with the enemy and then find his way back to his own field, given the usually lousy weather. Bud explained that upon crossing the English Channel when returning, he would duck under the cloud cover—sometimes very low—head for a prominent point on the coast, and from there take up a heading. Then he'd fly so many minutes, and he'd be right over his field. He said that despite more than 100 missions, only once had he landed at an alternate. Amazing.

Along with other authors, Bud was kind enough to swap signed books with me. That sure made my day.

Thomas A. Chase
Barrington, N.H.

Shangri-La Revisited
The excellent feature "They Flew From Shangri-La," by C.V. Glines in the May issue, was good reading. Those who participated in the Doolittle Raid deserve all the accolades they receive—and more!

In August 1943, I was an aviation cadet at Eglin Field, Fla., for aerial gunnery. We flew off a small paved strip surrounded by pine groves. On the runway was painted a small rectangle where, we were told, Jimmy Doolittle and his little group had practiced takeoffs to prepare for the mission to Japan. Under Doolittle's directions, the crews learned to get their B-25s off the ground with an impossibly short takeoff roll.

We walked the short distance of the rectangle end to end, then did it again. Only after walking over the painted rectangle a third time did we remark, "Ain't no way!" Nearly 70 years later, in spite of having read the reports by those who actually did it, I think back to when I walked that Eglin runway, and I repeat, "Ain't no way!"

Barrie S. Davis
Zebulon, N.C.

Saving General Patch
Larry Weirather's "Aviators" article in the May issue about General Alexander Patch states, "Sandy Patch was the only American general to have commanded in both the Pacific and European theaters." I believe this is incorrect, as General J. Lawton Collins commanded troops at Guadalcanal as well as in the European theater.

Al DeSimone
St. Louis, Mo.

Your article on "Saving General Patch" included an anecdote about Tech. Sgt. Stretton cutting his engine and listening for tanks during the Battle of the Bulge. The same thing happened in the 1965 movie The Battle of the Bulge, when Henry Fonda's char­acter, flying in the back seat of a Stin­son, orders his pilot to cut the engine so they can listen for tanks in the fog below.

Ed G. Power
Elizabeth City, N.C.

Whittle's Own Words
I was particularly interested in "Race for the Jet," by Nicholas O'Dell, in the March issue, as I had recently finished reading Jet: The Story of a Pioneer, by Sir Frank Whittle, who pioneered development of the jet engine. Your article was very good, but I was disappointed to note that Whittle's book was not mentioned for further reading, especially since many of the quotes in the article originated from it.
Charles "Russ" Sage
Hoodsport, Wash.

Send letters to Aviation History Editor, Weider History Group, 19300 Promenade Drive, Leesburg, VA 20176-6500, or e-mail to aviationhistory@weiderhistorygroup.com.



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